How do parents really feel about taking on nits and other nasties?

young boy scratching his head

Our new survey reveals the lengths to which mums and dads would go to avoid dealing with nits – with three quarters of parents calling for the return of Nitty Nora.

The survey of more than 1,000 parents, which coincides with the publication of Mumsnet’s new book, How to Blitz Nits and Other Nasties, gets up close and personal with the ickiest childhood afflictions, and reveals how parents feel about taking them on.

The research found that one in ten parents, who have experienced the joy of nits, would be willing to give up a week’s salary to eliminate nits forever. Five percent would sacrifice a fingertip if it meant they never had to treat the dreaded headlice again. But when asked which childhood nasties are the worst to deal with, an overwhelming number chose worms.

Top ten worst childhood afflictions for parents to deal with

  1. Threadworm ('worms')
  2. Molluscum
  3. Ringworm
  4. Foreign objects in noses, ears and other orifices
  5. Warts and verrucas
  6. Nits
  7. Poo where it shouldn't be
  8. Conjunctivitis
  9. Vomit
  10. Fear of dragons under the bed

Nine out of ten surveyed parents agree that keeping children at home while they are possibly infectious with minor conditions is very difficult to square with holding down a job. Despite regular pleas from teachers, 64% say they know parents who have knowingly sent children to school or nursery with untreated nits, although only 8% admit to having done so themselves.

So what’s the solution to keeping contagious nasties at bay? More than three-quarters of the surveyed parents believe that bringing back the nit nurse (aka Nitty Nora) would help to eradicate nits. Eight out of ten say schools, nurseries and childminders should be able to send home children whose parents don’t treat their nits, although only a third support naming and shaming repeat offenders.

Mumsnet Founder, Justine Roberts, said: “Before you have kids, nobody tells you about inspecting the toilet bowl for worms – which is probably just as well. Once you’re in possession of an infested child, your only option is to deal with the situation as best as you can. But How to Blitz Nits and Other Nasties distills the best hard-won wisdom for parents fighting the urge to drown the entire house in bleach.”

See the full results of the survey here.